Sanchez homers again, Tanaka rolls as Yankees blank Mariners
SEATTLE (AP) It took little time for Yankees' rookie Gary Sanchez to receive the type of respect normally reserved for established veterans considered among the elite hitters.
Seven home runs in the past nine games will quickly earn anyone respect. And in the case of Sanchez in Wednesday's 5-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners that torrid stretch led to him receiving two intentional walks just so the Mariners could face Mark Teixeira instead.
''You don't see it very often. You really don't,'' New York manager Joe Girardi said. ''It means that (Seattle manager) Scott Servais is paying attention to how he is swinging, number one, besides just here in Seattle. It just says a lot about him, his abilities.''
Sanchez's home run in the first inning and Masahiro Tanaka winning his fourth straight start helped the Yankees take two of three from the Mariners and close on one of the team's they're chasing in the AL wild-card race. The Yankees won their third straight road series.
Tanaka (11-4) threw seven innings and got the better of the Mariners and his former Japan league teammate Hisashi Iwakuma (14-9).
And yet he was overshadowed by Sanchez.
''It's outstanding, astonishing,'' Tanaka said through an interpreter.
Sanchez homered into the second deck in left field in the first inning on the first pitch from Iwakuma, his ninth home run in 18 games since joining the Yankees lineup on Aug. 3. He became the fifth player since 1913 to have nine or more home runs in his first 21 games. Trevor Story of Colorado had 10 homers in his first 21 games earlier this season.
Sanchez added a double later in the game and his intentional walk in the seventh inning led to Teixeira's RBI single for a 4-0 lead. The Mariners took no chances with the new catcher the next time, either, again intentionally walking him.
The walks seemed almost as impressive as the surge of home runs.
''I definitely was not expecting that, especially that last at-bat because I think there was no outs so I thought they would let me hit,'' Sanchez said through an interpreter. ''But they didn't.''
Tanaka was shaky early, escaping jams in the second and third innings before rolling the rest of the way. He followed up 7 2/3 shutout innings in his last start against the Angels by keeping Seattle off the scoreboard, allowing six hits and striking out five.
Tanaka did issue his first bases on ball since July 27 when he walked Seth Smith in the third inning, and snapped his streak of three consecutive starts with at least eight strikeouts and no walks.
After Ketel Marte bunted for a single with one out in the fifth, Tanaka retired his final eight batters.
''They pitched us well all series. We haven't been shut down like that in quite some time,'' Servais said.
Dellin Betances got the final out of the eighth and pitched the ninth for his sixth save.
Seattle's best scoring chance came in the second inning when Leonys Martin missed a two-run homer by inches, settling for a line drive single off the top of the fence in right field and advanced Adam Lind to third base. Tanaka got two groundouts to end the threat.
Iwakuma lost his second straight start despite giving up just three earned runs. It was the second time he matched up with Tanaka and 13th time in major league history two Japanese pitchers met. Tanaka also got the victory in April when the two met at Yankee Stadium.
Girardi became the sixth manager in Yankees' history to reach 800 wins, joining Joe McCarthy, Joe Torre, Casey Stengel, Miller Huggins and Ralph Houk.
Yankees: C Brian McCann was given the day off after catching Tuesday's game. It was the first game McCann caught since Aug. 12 and just the second since Aug. 4.
Mariners: 3B Kyle Seager was out of the lineup after fouling a ball off his right foot in Tuesday's game. Initial X-rays were negative, but Servais said Seager would get additional examination before the team left for its road trip.
Yankees: New York has a day off Thursday before opening a series at home on Friday against Baltimore.
Mariners: Seattle opens a seven-game trip on Thursday at the White Sox. James Paxton is expected to be activated off the DL to start the opener, although the move has not been announced.